Living amid the mountains is a lifelong dream, something I hope to achieve in the future. For now, I savour a taste in the Western (Bernese) Alps of Switzerland, staying at a village known as Grindelwald. It is the perfect place for a relaxing retreat or a hikers' paradise.
After arriving by train, I enter the Information Office seeking accommodation. They have a self-contained apartment available for the same cost of a shared dormitory. With address in hand, I walk to the private house - a chalet midway up a hill - and meet the lovely owner Erika.
We agree on a price for my stay; initially one week but later extending to ten days. It is among the best accommodation I have ever found - for location, price, and comfort.
The chalet is situated on the quiet side of Grindelwald, away from its bustling centre and its many tourists. Best of all, the views are magnificent. On one occasion, this rainbow appears after a storm.
The village centre offers a range of eating, sleeping and dining options. Touristy though not crowded.
Outside the village centre, the landscape is a hiker's dream.
Of lush green hills, pine tree forests, and towering mountains.
All accommodated guests in Grindelwald are entitled to a free bus pass. Its best use is seeing the Glacier Gorge (Gletscherschlucht) almost 2.5km away. The wooden walkway and gushing waters make it a pleasant side trip from the usual scenery.
For the bigger day trips, there are villages and mountain stops on the Bernese Alps that are reachable by road, train or cable car. One idyllic village is Lauterbrunnen; set amid a beautiful valley of waterfalls. The tourist drawcard is Trummelbach Falls, which closed on the day I visit due to weather conditions. The valley alone is worth the visit.
If I wasn’t accommodated in Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen would have been the alternative. Less people, more intimate.
Another option for accommodation or day trips is Interlaken town, located between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. Both these lakes are scenic with regular ferries operating.
I ferry across to the opposite side of Lake Brienz, then walk back along the shoreline. The trail passing through local residences.
Interlaken town has more people, more shops, and more eateries. It has variety. But I prefer Grindelwald as a place to stay – smaller and closer to the mountains.
Anyone visiting this region are likely to see the famous Jungfraujoch. It is the one tourist attraction I do not see. Instead, I take the cable car from Grindelwald to First; one of three cable car options in the village (the other two being Mannlichen and Pfingstegg).
The views at the summit of First are spectacular.
Hiking down is a wonderful five hours of mountain beauty that includes stopping for lunch.
For most visitors to First, they linger around the summit or walk partway before taking the cable car down. I highly recommend hiking all the way down. The nature is serene, and there is hardly anyone else.
My stay in Grindelwald has been one of my favourite times in life. Close to the mountains without being remote. An ideal base for exploring this region. Many people pass through this village, staying a short while. For me, ten days is barely enough.